September 2, 2011

I had an interview this morning with the CBC Edmonton morning show. They interviewed both my son and I. It was an interesting experience as it was a live interview. Which means, my answers were going directly onto the radio. No editing available! Fortunately, one individual went over some of the questions with me last night. Just to help me prepare my thoughts. Of course, this benefited all of us, as my giving answers that are dull or lacking coherence would make their show uninteresting to their listeners.

The whole point of the interview was to find out how those of us, displaced due to the wildfire that had burned down a large section of our town, were adapting to new schools. Of course, my son and I can only answer on behalf of our own selves. We certainly don’t represent all the families who had to leave Slave Lake because of the wildfire. Nevertheless, CBC Edmonton was happy to speak to us.

The interviewer brought up the topic of “stress.” Stress is a very fickle term. What can be very stressful for one person might be nothing more than an irritating moment to another. What might be nothing more than an inconvenience under one circumstance could be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” under another circumstance.  Stress is all relative to a person’s life and to the timing.

The wildfire was definitely stressful. It certainly wasn’t the most stressful event I have experienced since moving to Slave Lake eight years ago. In that short period of time, I have experienced a number of stressful situations. Each of them serious enough in their own right. When I look back at the entire period of time, some of those stressful events become nothing more than inconveniences, simply because of the other more stressful events that occurred either before or after.

Even though some of the events piled on top of each other, I found that I felt less stressed because of that very fact. The more events that happened, one after another, the more ludicrous it all seemed. The stress level came down simply because the situation seemed so bizarre. Perhaps that was the way my mind could deal with all the stress: by seeing the absurdity of it all. It was as if the fact that yet another very stressful event happened was nothing more than a cosmic joke.

While writing this blog, I remembered David Bowie’s song, “Changes.” My title comes from a line in the chorus. Just as Bowie sings, “Strange fascination, fascinating me / Ah changes are taking the pace I’m going through,” I view these stressful events with an absurd fascination.

For example, in three years, I have had to make three separate insurance claims. My insurance company must regret having me as a client! In July, 2009, my hot water tank burst. This resulted in the secondary suite in my basement flooding. Then in May, 2011, a wildfire burned down my house. So much for my new basement, having been replaced due to the flooding.

Then in August, 2011, I was rear-ended while on a road trip with my teens. I still don’t know the status of my vehicle. I think the frame itself is bent as the back passenger door could not close after the accident. So, not only do I have a household insurance claim pending while my house is rebuilt and my contents replaced; I also now have a vehicle insurance claim pending, while I wait for my car to be repaired or replaced.

Not one of these events could have been prevented by any action on my part. All of them were stressful and required a lifestyle change. The lifestyle change from the wildfire resulting in the greatest change of the three. Any one of these events could have resulted in depression, anxiety disorder, lethargy, apathy, and a host of other emotional damage. But they didn’t. Instead, my family and I quite simply picked up wherever we were, and continued walking forward. Sometimes, it feels like I’m crawling. Regardless, I’m still moving forward.

I don’t think that I am any more resilient than the next person. I don’t think my attitude is any better or worse than most other people’s. I think it has more to do with the fact that so much happened in such a short time frame that there was no other choice. It all became rather absurd. Like the corny punch line to a long-winded joke, that isn’t really funny but you laugh anyway. Or one of those “knock-knock” jokes that brings a snort and a roll of the eyes.

During the interview, my son gave a very wise answer to one of the questions. When asked how he deals with the stress of starting a new school after losing everything he owned to the wildfire, he stated that “you can’t control change, you have to just go with it.” That about says it all.

For more information on the wildfire, see my blogs under the “Slave Lake Wildfires” category (see the list of categories on the bottom right hand side of the page).

For more information on the vehicle accident, see my blogs under the “Insurance” category. Also, see my blogs titled, “Scattering stuff as I go,” and “Third time not so lucky.”

To listen to David Bowie singing “Changes,” go to the following link:



  1. Hi Martha, I caught your interview on the radio. Fun to hear someone you know. You have a very well spoken son and it was good to hear that you are coping so well with all these “changes”. Hope to see you at the Symposium.

    1. Thanks, Lois! I will be at the symposium. I am facilitating a couple of the sessions. Guess what, because you commented on one of my blogs, you are now entered into my contest! See the page titled “Contests” for details.

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